The Predator Helios 300 series of laptops has seen a significant transformation in 2019 – we noted this in detail in our review of the 17-inch PH317-53 model. The laptop has become better in many respects and deservedly earned a positive rating from the site’s test lab. As you might guess, the PH315-53 version has a 15-inch screen, but otherwise offers the same features, specifications and gaming performance.
⇡#Technical characteristics, equipment and software
Let’s reiterate: versions marked PH317-53 are laptops equipped with a 17-inch IPS matrix; PH315-53 are 15″ models. One of these is what we are talking about today. The table below shows all possible combinations of hardware for a more compact and lighter version of the Predator Helios 300.
|Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-53)|
|Primary Display||15.6″, 1920 × 1080, IPS, 144Hz|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-10750H |
Intel Core i5-10300H
|Video card||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q 8GB GDDR6 |
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB GDDR6
|RAM||Up to 32GB DDR4-3200|
|Install Drives||2 × M.2 in PCI Express x4 3.0 mode |
1 × SATA 6Gb/s
|Interfaces||1 × USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C |
3 × USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A
1 x 3.5mm mini jack
1 x HDMI
1 × mini-DisplayPort
1 × RJ-45
|Built-in battery||66 Wh|
|External power supply||280W and 230W|
|Dimensions||363 × 255 × 23 mm|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home|
By the way, we tested one of the most sophisticated modifications of Helios“. The tested sample (labeled PH315-53-75AB) is equipped with a 6-core Core i7-10750H and GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics, 24 GB of RAM, as well as a terabyte hard drive and solid state drive. The version without pre-installed Windows at the time of writing cost an average of $2,200 in Moscow retail.
The Killer E2500 gigabit controller is responsible for the wired network in the laptop, and the Killer Wireless-AX 1650i is responsible for the wireless connection. The updated Wi-Fi module supports IEEE 802.11b / g / n / ac / ax standards with a frequency of 2.4 and 5 GHz and a maximum bandwidth of up to 2.4 Gb / s and Bluetooth 5.0.
The laptop comes with an external power supply with a power of 230 W and a mass of about 600 grams.
⇡#Appearance and Input Devices
All Acer Predator series gaming computers have a recognizable design: it is black with splashes of white and blue; these are strict, chopped and to some extent brutal forms; this is a recognizable logo – in laptops, by the way, it is highlighted during operation. The build quality of the laptop, when compared to the 17-inch version, has not changed and can still be considered excellent, as well as the materials used. The display cover and the area around the keyboard of “Helios” are made of metal, the rest of the body is made of matte plastic.
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The dimensions and weight of the Predator Helios 300 are standard. The laptop weighs 2.5 kg, and such a load can be carried with you in a backpack if there is an urgent need for it. The case thickness is 25 mm. Naturally, “Helios” corresponds to all the fashion trends in laptop building: the screen side frames are 9 mm thick.
The cover of the hero of the review opens about 150 degrees, and its hinges are rather tight, but it can be easily opened with one hand.
All I / O ports of the laptop are located on the sides. At the back, only the connector for connecting an external power supply was “hidden”. Unfortunately, the laptop does not support USB Power Delivery – readers are asked to note the presence of this feature in gaming laptops.
On the left, the laptop has an Ethernet port, two USB 3.1 Gen1 A-types, and a 3.5mm headset jack. On the right are HDMI and mini-DisplayPort outputs, another USB 3.1 Gen1 and a USB 3.1 Gen2 C-type connector. Having grieved about the missing card reader, in general, I state that the necessary set of ports is still in the laptop.
The photo above clearly shows that a very rare guest visited the test lab. Yes, the presence of a digital block in modern gaming “tags” is becoming a real curiosity, but the Predator Helios 300 has it.
The keyboard layout of the review hero completely repeats the one used in the 17-inch version of Helios”, even the size of all buttons has not changed. So again I had to get used to the tiny F1-F12 row, as well as the not very large right Shift and Tab.
The keyboard has 4-level (in terms of brightness) RGB backlighting. Moreover, in the PredatorSense program, you can set up four different glow zones or use one of five dynamic profiles, such as Breath, Wave, Scale, Shift and Neon.
In general, playing and working with text behind the keyboard “Helios” turned out to be quite convenient.
Naturally, the 720p webcam, which is equipped with all Predator Helios 300 regardless of the screen diagonal, has not disappeared. Its image quality, however, is only good enough for warm tube video calls with family and friends. For streaming, it is better to buy a separate camera.
⇡#Internal design and upgrade options
The big Predator Helios 300 was easy to take apart, and I honestly didn’t expect to have trouble taking apart the 15-inch version. The method of removing the bottom was simple: unscrew all the available screws, gently pry the edge of the removable plate with something plastic and slowly detach it from the rest of the case. That’s just something went wrong – the bottom could not be separated!
Nevertheless, intelligence reports that the laptop’s cooling system does not differ from that used in the 17-inch “Helios“, and consists of four copper radiators, three heat pipes yes pairs of fans of tangential type. We will definitely check the effectiveness of its work, but so far the presence of large black copper plates attracts attention.
Fans blow heated air from the back and side of the case. The manufacturer claims that the AeroBlade 3D impellers have a unique blade shape that provides maximum air exchange inside the laptop case. Each of the 59 blades is 0.1mm thick, all-metal, and has a complex profile that Acer says reduces turbulence and noise.
The laptop has good upgrade options. The test sample has 24 GB of DDR4-3200 RAM, recruited by two modules of 8 + 16 GB. A Western Digital WDC PC SN730 SSD is installed in one of the two M.2 2280 slots, and a Seagate ST1000LM049-2GH172 hard drive is inserted into the 2.5-inch drive slot. Over time, it will be possible to install another fast SSD in an empty M.2 port, and no one forbids changing the HDD. Accordingly, an 8-gigabyte DDR4 memory bar can be replaced with the same module, but larger.
The updated testing methodology for gaming laptops puts even more emphasis on PC gaming. Laptop performance was measured using various software.
Games (Full HD resolution):
- Counter Strike: Global Offensive. DirectX 9. Map Benchmark. Maximum quality, MSAA 8x + FXAA.
- World of Tanks enCore. DirectX 11. Benchmark. Ultra mode, TSSAA HQ.
- Dota 2. DirectX 11. Match recording. Maximum quality.
- The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. DirectX 11. Novigrad and surroundings. Maximum quality.
- GTA V. DirectX 11. Built-in benchmark (last scene). Maximum quality, FXAA + 2x MSAA, advanced quality settings on, 16x AF, image resolution scaling off
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition. DirectX 11. Riverwood and surroundings. Maximum quality, TAA. No mods.
- Total War Three Kingdoms. DirectX 11. Built-in benchmark. Max mode, TAA.
- Far Cry New Dawn. DirectX 11. Built-in benchmark. Maximum quality, HD textures – on, TAA.
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. DirectX 11. Built-in benchmark. Highest mode.
- Metro: Exodus. DirectX 12. Built-in benchmark. Ultra Mode
- Battlefield V. DirectX 12. The Last Tiger mission. Ultra Mode, TAA, DXR Off
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider. DirectX 12. Built-in benchmark. Maximum quality, DXR – off, TAA.
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. DirectX 12. Built-in benchmark. Maximum quality, 2x MSSA.
- Gears 5. DirectX 12. Built-in benchmark. Ultra Mode
- Red Dead Redemption 2. Vulkan. Built-in benchmark (last scene). Maximum quality (advanced settings – off), TAA.
- DOOM Eternal. Vulcan. Beginning of the game. Ultra Mode
The gaming performance of the laptop was determined using the well-known MSI Afterburner program. It allows you to get the rendering time of each frame. The use of the 99th percentile instead of the minimum frames per second is due to the desire to clean up the results from random bursts of performance that were provoked by reasons not directly related to the operation of the main components of the platform.
Testing the laptop in games and applications was carried out with the activation of the fastest mode suitable for these tasks.
- Corona 1.3. Testing rendering speed using the renderer of the same name. Measures the build speed of the standard BTR scene used to measure performance.
- Blender 2.83. Determination of the final rendering speed in one of the popular free packages for creating three-dimensional graphics. The duration of building the final model pavillon_barcelona_v1.2 from Blender Benchmark is measured.
- x265 HD Benchmark. Testing the speed of video transcoding to H.265/HEVC format. The tables and graphs show the average integer value obtained after five runs of the test.
- CINEBENCH R20. Performance measurement of photorealistic 3D rendering in CINEMA 4D animation package, CPU test. The tables and graphs show the average integer value obtained after five runs of the test.
- Adobe Premiere Pro 2020. Рендеринг проекта в разрешении 4K.
- Topaz Video Enhance AI v1.2.3. Performance testing in an AI-based program to improve video detail. The test uses the original video at 1280 × 720 resolution, which is scaled up by 150% using the Artemis-HQ model: P, HQ, MC.
- Futuremark PCMARK10 Professional Edition 2.1.2177. Testing in Essentials scenarios (typical work of an average user: launching applications, surfing the Internet, video conferencing), Productivity (office work with a text editor and spreadsheets), Digital Content Creation (creation of digital content: photo editing, non-linear video editing, rendering and 3D visualization -models).
- 3DMark Professional Edition 2.11.6846. Testing in Time Spy and Fire Strike scenes.
- Unigine Superposition Benchmark. 1080p Extreme testing.
Notebook testing in resource-intensive applications was carried out in the default mode without any adjustment of the parameters of the central processor and cooler.
Display testing is performed using the X-Rite i1Display Pro colorimeter and the DisplayCAL 3 application.
The battery life of the laptop was tested in two modes. The first load option – web surfing – involves alternately opening and closing the tabs of the Computeruniverse.ru and Unsplash.com sites with an interval of 30 seconds. For this test, the current version of the Google Chrome browser at the time of testing is used. In the second mode, video in .mkv format and Full HD resolution is played in the built-in player of Windows OS with the repeat function activated. In all cases, the same display brightness was set to 200 cd / m2, and the keyboard backlight (if any) and the sound were turned off.
In games and other applications, the results of the following laptops are considered:
|MSI GS66 Stealth||15.6”, 1920 × 1080, IPS (IGZO)||Intel Core i7-10750H, 6/12 cores/threads, 2.6 (5.0) GHz, 45W||16 GB DDR4-2666 Dual Channel||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6||SSD, 1TB||99 Wh|
|ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo 15||15.6”, 3840 × 2160, IPS||Intel Core i9-10980HK, 8/16 cores/threads, 2.4 (5.3) GHz, 45W||32GB DDR4-3200 Dual Channel||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER Max-Q 8GB GDDR6||2TB SSD||90 Wh|
|Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-53)||15.6”, 1920 × 1080, IPS||Intel Core i7-10750H, 6/12 cores/threads, 2.6 (5.0) GHz, 45W||24 GB DDR4-3200 Dual Channel||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q 8GB GDDR6||SSD, 1TB |
HDD, 1 TB
⇡#Display and Sound
The 15-inch Predator Helios 300 models use an IPS panel with a vertical refresh rate of 144 Hz and a response time of 3 ms. We are talking about NV156FHM-N4K from BOE. Screen test results are shown in the table. In general, the Helios display is well suited for gaming and watching movies (high frequency and contrast, fast response), but it is unlikely to be suitable for those who are professionally involved in photography and video.
|Acer Predator Helios 300 (matrix – BOE NV156FHM-N4K)|
|Minimum brightness||21 cd/m2|
|Max brightness||314 cd/m2|
|Adobe RGB color gamut||62.2%|
|Grey Scale Deviation: Average (Maximum)||0.32 (0.97)|
|ColorChecker24 test deviation: mean (maximum)||0.49 (5.7)|
|Viewing angles||As stated|
|PWM||Unseen at all brightness levels|
Overall, I liked the sound of the Predator Helios 300, and it’s almost the same as what I heard when testing the 17-inch version. This is a clean, smooth and loud sound without wheezing and extraneous noise. Mids and highs sound quite natural and voluminous.
⇡#Efficiency of the cooling system
The Predator Helios 300 has three operating modes: Normal (default), Fast and Extreme. The difference in performance between the first and second presets is very significant.
|Summary of laptop operation and setup|
|Declared GPU Speed (Boost) and Memory Speed||1260 MHz, 10.8 Gbps||1310 MHz, 10.9 Gbps||1360 MHz, 11 Gbps|
|The Witcher III Real GPU Clock: Min, Max, Average||1425 MHz||1515 MHz||1635 MHz|
|1485 MHz||1555 MHz||1710 MHz|
|1449 MHz||1554 MHz||1643 MHz|
|Average frequency of all CPU cores||2.5 GHz||2.7 GHz||2.9 GHz|
|Maximum noise level||41.7 dBA||41.7 dBA||48.3 dBA|
|Average Power: GPU, CPU||89.5W||99.6W||99.5W|
|GPU Temperature: Average, Maximum||73 °C||76 °C||69 °C|
|75 °C||77 °C||70 °C|
|CPU temperature: average, maximum||73 °C||75 °C||69 °C|
|80 °C||87 °C||86 °C|
|Test results in 3DMark Time Spy||6828||7345||7459|
|3DMark Fire Strike test results||15977||17370||17666|
|Test results in Unigine Superposition (1080p Extreme)||4255||4543||4604|
|Performance boost in benchmarks||+8%, +9%, +7%||+9%, +11%, +8%|
We are dealing with graphics in Max-Q design, although this fact is not mentioned anywhere on the manufacturer’s website. The frequencies of the GeForce RTX 2070 GPU are specifically “strangled” for the sake of energy efficiency, and in the default operating mode in the game The Witcher 3, the chip frequency varies from 1425 to 1485 MHz. As soon as the “Fast” mode was turned on, the GPU frequency increased by an average of 105 MHz. Well, the “Extreme” mode, in fact, activates the maximum fan speed – this is well shown by measurements of the noise level and temperature of PC components.
Noteworthy is the work of the central processor in games. The frequency of the 6-core Core i7-10750H does not exceed 3 GHz, which has a positive effect on heating and noise levels. Yes, the operation of the Predator Helios 300 is well audible, but this laptop cannot be called loud when the first two modes are turned on, because much noisier models often stay in the test lab.
Acer engineers decided to slightly increase the power limit of the Core i7-10750H, however, in serious resource-intensive programs that can load a 6-core processor by 45 watts or more, the chip frequency does not reach the maximum laid down by Turbo Boost technology. In Premiere Pro, for example, it drops to 2 GHz, and the average is 3.5 GHz. This pays off in long tests. The situation can be somewhat corrected by CPU downvolting, carried out using special software (“Extreme” + XTU in the table below).
|Laptop Cooling Performance in Adobe Premiere Pro 2020|
|“Extreme”||“Extreme” + XTU|
|CPU Temperature||Maximum||78 °C||78 °C|
|Medium||73 °C||67 °C|
|Noise level||Maximum||42.2 dBA||42.2 dBA|
|CPU Power Consumption||Average||53.3W||44W|
|Test task execution time (less is better)||1211 s||996 s|
The previously tested Predator Helios 300 had a similar configuration: a 6-core Intel CPU and a GeForce RTX 2070 in a Max-Q design – the potential of such a bundle in games is well known.
Naturally, any laptop with a GeForce RTX 2070 on board is great for modern AAA projects in Full HD resolution. Even when using the maximum (or close to the maximum) graphics quality settings, the Predator Helios 300 in all games without exception gives a comfortable FPS.
Of course, to get a higher FPS in some games, you can lower the quality of the graphics. Not in all projects, the transition from the “High Quality” to “Maximum Quality” mode is accompanied by a noticeable improvement in the image to the naked eye. But the FPS drops sharply, yes.
|Test results in games, Full HD, FPS|
|World of Tanks enCore||155||110|
|Counter Strike: Global Offensive||237||57|
|Old but still popular games|
|The Witcher III: Wild Hunt||83||53|
|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition||124||70|
|(Relatively) modern games|
|Assassin’s Creed Odyssey||56||47|
|Far Cry New Dawn||80||60|
|Total War Three Kingdoms||57||43|
|Red Dead Redemption 2||50||35|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider||82||63|
|Horizon Zero Dawn||63||31|
When comparing laptops with similar processors and graphics, you need to make a lot of reservations, because once again we are convinced that many factors affect the performance of a mobile CPU in a laptop, such as the efficiency of the cooling system and the success of the CPU instance itself, as well as the speed of those installed in the laptop storage devices. And we see that the Predator Helios 300 in some cases outperforms the MSI model equipped with exactly the same CPU.
Below are the results of testing the laptop in the PCMARK10 comprehensive benchmark.
In a number of tests (archiving, working with graphics and photo and video content, interaction with browsers, as well as office applications), the laptop drive plays an important role. In Helios, the main storage device is the Western Digital WDC PC SN730 SSD.
The laptop comes with a 58 Wh lithium-ion battery. Such a battery was enough for the laptop to work in light scenarios for almost six hours. The display brightness can always be reduced, and then the Predator Helios 300 will work for another half an hour or an hour longer.
|Battery life, screen brightness 200 cd/m2|
|Web||5 hours 42 minutes|
|View Video||5 hours 57 minutes|
Everything that I once wrote about the 17-inch model, in fact, can be addressed to the 15-inch version of the Predator Helios 300. Acer has released a good laptop that does not have serious flaws. I note the good build quality and the ability to upgrade the device. The cooling system is configured so that it provides low temperatures for the main components of the laptop and does not work too loudly. Finally, the GeForce RTX 2070-level graphics (albeit in Max-Q design) are enough to comfortably play all modern games in Full HD resolution.